WMN/Atlantic Records artist Brett Eldredge welcomed industry members yesterday (Sept. 10) on the eve of album release day for his sophomore project, Illinois.
Artist and label held an album listening party at Nashville’s Ocean Way Studios, where the majority of the album was recorded. The reigning CMA New Artist of the Year, known for his warm, r&b-tinged voice, garnered three chart-topping hits from his debut project Bring You Back, including “Beat of the Music,” “Don’t Ya” and “Mean To Me.” Its sonically cohesive, polished followup seems a confident, natural progression.
WMN CEO/president John Esposito predicted that Eldredge would very soon see his fourth consecutive No. 1 hit with his current chart-climber “Lose My Mind.” Clocking in at two minutes and 38 seconds, Eldredge noted it’s the shortest song he’s ever written. Eldredge co-wrote several tracks on the new 12-song set, including “Fire,” “Just A Taste,” “Lose It All,” and the title track.
In introducing what he called “probably my favorite song on the record,” Eldredge said, “I started hearing about people getting engaged to ‘Mean To Me’.” Prior to a concert at Kansas Motor Speedway, a reporter asked Eldredge what he ultimately wanted to do with his music. “I thought about how I want to be that song that leaves a mark on peoples’ lives.” He told songwriter Scooter Carusoe, just prior to taking the stage, “I wanna write a song called, ‘Wanna Be That Song.'” Three months later, Carusoe reminded him of the idea, and they co-wrote the track with writer Ross Copperman, who is also a co-producer on the album.
“Sometimes songs come back from the dead,” Eldredge quipped while introducing the infectious “Drunk On Your Love.” “Well, it wasn’t dead, but it took a nap. We wrote it back in 2012.” At the time, Eldredge was neighbors with Hayley Stommel, who married Florida Georgia Line member Tyler Hubbard earlier this year. “They asked to used the demo of the song in their wedding video. They put that video out of their wedding and used a bit of the song, and we knew people would be asking about it. So we had to hurry to update it and included it on the album.”
The album is not without its share of heartbreak songs, most notably the Bill Anderson co-write “Lose It All.” “I love a good heartbreak song,” commented Eldredge. “I’ve always idolized Bill Anderson. The song is about looking back at how bad you effed it up.”
The title track was co-written by another superstar, Tom Douglas. “I’ve always wanted an album called Illinois,” said Eldredge, who thanked Douglas for making the drive to Illinois to write with Eldredge. He also mentioned that Douglas was hearing the final version of the song for the first time during the preview at Ocean Way.
Though only his sophomore project, Illinois highlights an artist comfortable with the array of styles his smooth voice can authentically cover. The project offers more nods to r&b and ’70s rock than traditional country. He welcomes current tourmate Thomas Rhett on the ’70s vibe of “You Can’t Stop Me,” and takes risks with the hard rock riffs and distorted lead vocal on “Shadow.” Even the creation of “Shadow” was less than traditional. “We started with a beat-box, a vocal, and a stapler I grabbed off a desk to use for percussion,” said Eldredge.
After playing the album, Eldredge offered an acoustic, live rendition of “Drunk On Your Love.”
Eldredge ended the party by having the crowd record a singalong version of the chorus to “Drunk On Your Love.” But first, attendees got a little shot of bravery via an interesting alcoholic combination of whiskey and pickle juice. Eldredge gave thanks to the label, his co-writers, the album’s producers, and everyone in the industry who has made his career what it is thus far.
Illinois releases today (Sept. 11).
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